Cavs charge into new region with depth and experience
The 2015 season was quite the rebound for coach Jay Frye and the Richland Northeast Cavaliers. Not only did Richland Northeast post its most wins since 2012, it did so after an 0-4 start.
Region play was critical for the Cavalier turnaround, as Richland Northeast posted a 4-1 record, including wins over A.C. Flora and Dreher. A win in the first round of the 3A playoffs capped off what was a surprising year.
The offense took a big step forward. Aided by an experienced offensive line and a strong running game, the Cavaliers gained nearly 126 total yards and 12 points more per game than in 2014.
Defensively, Richland Northeast was a mixed bag. Despite giving up nearly 35 yards more per game in 2015, the Cavaliers surrendered nearly a point-and-a-half less.
Aloysius Jackson returns after rushing for nearly 1,000 yards in 2015. He followed up a strong 2015 campaign with a great spring practice. Coach Frye expects Jackson to be more of a leader in 2016.
Backing up Jackson is Charles Simmons. He is stronger and faster than a season ago. Frye expects Simmons to get more reps.
Running back: Tyquandre
Davis, Justin Woodberry
Richland Northeast lost two key running backs to graduation but returns leading rusher Tyquandre Davis. The third year starter will look to improve on a great season. However, in order to make that happen, he will have to have a great fall camp since he missed spring practice.
Justin Woodberry will fill in at the H-back position. Along with his running capabilities, Woodberry also blocks well and can catch the ball out of the backfield.
Wide Receiver: Cedr ic
Smith, Jaquain Hills, Tariq
The passing stats weren’t stellar, but Frye expects that to change in 2016. He has plenty of options in the passing game including Cedric Smith, the Cavaliers’ leading receiver. He’s 6’1” with the ability to stretch the field.
Jaquain Hills is 6’3” and a good blocker.
Tariq Anderson has good experience and provides quality depth.
Offensive Line: Moses
Howard, Chris Dove, Javian
Brown, Dwight Faust, Isaiah Garcia, Jalen Young
This is a deep and experienced unit.
Moses Howard is the leader of the unit. The junior can play any position along the offensive line.
Chris Dove, Javian Brown, and Dwight Faust all bring experience.
Isaiah Garcia spent the offseason getting bigger, faster, and stronger. Jalen Young provides depth. Defensive Line: Dominic Vereen, Daqean Holley, Quentin Latten, Luke Lumbard, Cody Lambert
The defensive line may be the deepest and most experienced unit on the team.
Dominic Vareen, Daqean Holley, and Quentin Latten are all juniors. Vereen will line up at tackle. Holley had a great spring and will use his explosiveness at defensive end. Latten is talented and versatile with the ability to play either end or tackle.
Luke Lumbard and Cody Lambert, both seniors, also provide experience. Lambert got bigger in the offseason and now tips the scales at 240 lbs. Lumbard can play either end or linebacker.
Linebacker: Tim Gibson,
Desean Gause, Keion Johnson
While the linebacker unit lost T.J. Brunson, plenty of talent remains.
Tim Gibson had more tackles for loss and sacks than Brunson. His experience will be helpful to fill Brunson’s shoes.
Desean Gause and Keion Johnson will battle for the two outside linebacker positions.
Secondary: Mike Joyner,
Marzell Jackson, Austin
Howze, Marvaius Green,
The secondary is another unit with depth and experience.
Mike Joyner is a three-year starter at cornerback but can play just about any position in the secondary. Marzell Jackson plays on both sides of the ball but will line up at the opposite corner position.
Austin Howze returns at free safety. He too will see action on both sides of the ball.
Marvaius Green has experience at safety and linebacker. The returning defensive back had over 100 tackles in 2015.
Kelvonte Owens provides quality depth.
While the kicking job is still up in the air, Tucker Dove made a strong case to be the team’s starting punter with a solid spring practice performance.
The 2015 season was a momentum changing type of year for the Richland Northeast football program. Following two seasons where the Cavaliers won a total of three games, a 6-6 season was a breath of fresh air. It was a year in which Richland Northeast won five out of its last six games, led eventual state champion South Pointe in the fourth quarter, and claimed a share of the region championship.
Coach Frye hopes the momentum will carry over into the 2016 season. The pieces are in place for the success to continue: a capable quarterback, a deep and experienced offensive line, and a veteran defense.
However, questions remain. Can the defense improve? Can the offense build on what it accomplished in 2015? And perhaps most importantly, how will Richland North- east fare in a new region?
The offense could be even better with the potential of a more developed passing attack.
The versatility and skill level on the defense lends the possiblity of improvement on that side of the ball.
The toughest question to answer is the schedule. Despite petitioning the South Carolina High School League to remain in the region with A.C. Flora and Dreher, Richland Northeast was placed in a region with defending 3A State Champion South Pointe, nine-win Westwood, and eight-win Lancaster and York.
The experience Richland Northeast gained from last season will help, but the key word for this team is potential. If the Cavaliers are able to reach their potential, they could be a dangerous team in the playoffs.
Head Coach: Jay Frye (19th season)
Overall record: 120-100
Offensive Coordinator: Tri Heard
Defensive Coordinator: Bennett Weigle
2015 record: 6-6, 4-1 in region IV, 3A
2015 playoffs: lost to South Pointe 34-24 in the second round of the 3A playoffs
1. Aloysius Jackson-The senior quarterback will look to build off a 2015 season where he led Richland Northeast to a 5-1 record in the final six games and a first round playoff win. With talent, experience, and height at receiver, Jackson will have opportunities to throw the ball more. He will also have experience in the backfield with Tyquandre Davis to take some of the pressure off.
2. Tim Gibson- While T.J. Brunson received most of the headlines last season for Richland Northeast, it was Gibson who had the better stats. Gibson recorded more tackles for loss and sacks than the former Cavalier star. Along with his on-the-field production, Gibson will also have to help fill the leadership void left by Brunson’s graduation.
3. The offensive line-An experienced and cohesive unit was one of the biggest reasons for an improved record in 2015. Again, Richland Northeast returns a veteran unit, headlined by Moses Howard. Chris Dove, Javian Brown, Dwight Faust, and Isaiah Garcia are also returning to the line. They will have to rely on their experience over the course of the 2016 season, especially during region play.